The Opposition has called on the Health Minister to explain why dozens of hotel quarantine workers are not fully vaccinated, over three months after the Government’s mandatory vaccination deadline.
Shadow Regional Health Minister Martin Aldridge said the admission that over 60 hotel quarantine workers were yet to receive their second vaccination was a gaping hole in WA’s COVID-19 defences.
“Back in April, following several lockdowns caused by the State Government’s mismanagement of hotel quarantine, the Health Minister promised all hotel quarantine workers would be fully vaccinated by May 10,” Mr Aldridge said.
“Several months past the Government’s own deadline and the critical task of vaccinating hotel quarantine workers at the coalface of protecting WA from COVID-19 appears to have been forgotten.”
Mr Aldridge said the State Government had failed to learn lessons from earlier in the year.
“Families and businesses know all too well how easily COVID-19 can spread from our hotel quarantine system into the community, with successive breaches earlier this year placing millions of WA residents into potentially avoidable lockdowns.”
Mr Aldridge said the State Government’s complacency was inexcusable and risked exposing WA residents to a Delta strain outbreak.
“We’ve seen how devastating the Delta strain has been in New South Wales, forcing millions into endless lockdowns, putting immense pressure on the hospital system, and causing needless deaths.
“Tragically, the State Government’s inability to deliver on its own vaccine promise is leaving our State exposed and could have potentially disastrous ramifications for people’s lives and livelihoods.”
Mr Aldridge said WA’s intake of evacuees from Afghanistan would put additional pressures on an unprepared hotel quarantine system.
“While the Opposition fully supports providing aid for evacuees, the Government must demonstrate their ability to safely quarantine these arrivals without a fully vaccinated workforce.
“This risk could easily have been avoided if the Health Minister had ensured all hotel quarantine workers were fully vaccinated, as he promised months ago.
“Given hotel quarantine workers are at the highest risk of any workforce in WA of being exposed to COVID-19, I can’t understand how the Health Minister can be so complacent with this critical task.”
Hotel Quarantine Breach Timeline:
- 31 January: A five-day lockdown for the Perth and Peel regions is ordered after an unvaccinated hotel quarantine worker tests positive to COVID-19.
- 18 April: The Health Minister issues a media statement announcing mandatory vaccinations for all hotel quarantine workers from May 10.
- 23 April: A three-day lockdown for the Perth and Peel regions is triggered after a guest contracts COVID-19 while in hotel quarantine and is infectious in the community for several days.
- 1 May: An unvaccinated hotel quarantine worker tests positive to COVID-19 and is infectious in the community for four days.
- 10 May: The State Government’s mandatory vaccination deadline comes into effect.
- 19 August: The Health Minister confirms 63 hotel quarantine workers are not fully vaccinated and is unable to confirm if any staff had been discharged for failing to become vaccinated before the 10 May deadline.